African Thunder Platinum - Chief Executive Officer
Currently based in London, Mr. Richards is a well-known mining executive with over 30 years' experience in mining and metals. He brings publicly listed CEO experience in both Toronto and London, and has focused primarily on projects in Africa over the past 10 years. Mr. Richards has acted or advised on a multitude of corporate M&A projects, and has extensive mine project development and rehabilitation, mine financing and senior level operations experience. Most recently, Brett was the CEO of Octéa Limited from 2012 to 2015, a private West African mining company, and prior to that served as the interim CEO of Roxgold in 2012, and was the CEO of Avocet Mining from 2009 to 2012 - both listed companies with gold operations in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Brett has held other senior executive and management positions at a variety of publicly traded companies including Katanga Mining Limited, Kinross Gold and Co-Steel Inc.
Corporate Update and Strategic Opportunities
The board of directors of ATP have mandated Mr. Richards to advance plans for the re-start of the underground mine at the Smokey Hills Mine and the development of the Kalplats project towards production, while exploring strategic acquisitions and other joint venture opportunities.
ATP expects to allocate new funds to capitalize the optimization of mine production at the Smokey Hills Mine prior to re-opening the mine. It will do this by investigating means of increasing equipment efficiency, exploring possible open pit scenarios and other opportunities to maximise the plant capacity through tolling from other new sources of external ore. ATP has proven to be a lower half cash cost producer to its peers when operating at capacity, and is confident that it can further lower its operating costs by optimising and maximising its plant capacity. ATP will also allocate appropriate funds to advance the Kalplats project towards a definitive bankable feasibility study.
At this time, ATP will also be conducting an evaluation of a number of potential business combinations to build a strong, platinum mid-tier producer in both the Bushveld and Limpopo Region and the North West Province of South Africa.
Re-structuring of the Macquarie Debt
In addition to the executive appointment, ATP announces that Pala Investments Limited ("Pala"), a major shareholder of ATP, has entered into an agreement with Macquarie Bank Limited ("Macquarie") to acquire the US$12.46 million credit facility between Macquarie and Phokathaba Platinum (Proprietary) Limited ("Phokathaba"), a subsidiary of ATP which holds the Smokey Hills Platinum Mine (the "Smokey Hills Mine").
Comments from the Shareholders
David Stein, Director of Aberdeen International Inc. ("Aberdeen"), a major shareholder of ATP, and Mike Brown, Managing Director of Pala, jointly commented: "ATP has undergone a number of transformations in the recent year since its acquisition of the former Platinum Australia assets in 2015. Most recently during the pre-commercial development of the Smokey Hills Mine, ATP decided to place the mine into care and maintenance and defer full production until higher PGM prices could be achieved on its concentrate sales. We feel this was a prudent decision, while exploring its other tactical and strategic value creating options related to the business. The Smokey Hills Mine and the Kalplats project are world class assets that require relatively small amounts of capital to optimize and unlock their respective value. The operation-ready Smokey Hills Mine has significant potential to expand its production profile with its new 60,000 tpm processing plant. This not only allows for expansion opportunities at the mine but also allows for significant optionality on mining, tolling and other ventures to maximize the capacity of the plant. The Kalplats project is expected to be a low cost operation based on a long life of open pit mining and has a great resource upside potential given the size of the land package and the orientation of the known resource. Collectively, we welcome the appointment of Brett Richards as ATP's new CEO, to lead the company through this next stage of maturity as his experience on the continent and in capital markets will be a strong catalyst to creating a mid-tier platinum producer, at this stage in the PGM cycle."
About African Thunder Platinum Limited
African Thunder Platinum Limited, a privately held Mauritius entity, is an emerging PGM producer with its properties located in South Africa. Its flagship Smokey Hills Mine is located on the Eastern Limb of the Bushveld Complex in South Africa. The mine site is well-serviced by local infrastructure and is easily accessible by paved road, with water and grid power to site, plus additional standby diesel generating capacity to provide back-up power as needed. In addition, ATP also owns a 49% interest in the advanced Kalplats project, a unique shallow platinum-palladium resource project located in the Kraaipan Greenstone Belt west of Johannesburg which is geologically distinct from the Bushveld-type deposits typical of South Africa, and will be mined from surface for a long mine life. Based on a historical prefeasibility study disclosed in October 2009 by Platinum Australia and prepared by DRA with an effective date of September 2010, the Kalplats project has a historical inferred resource of 137.4 million tonnes at a grade of 1.53 g/t (3E, platinum + palladium + gold) for a total of 6.7 million ounces 3E on a 100% basis. ATP's qualified person has not done sufficient work to classify this historical estimate as current mineral resources and ATP is not treating this historical estimate as current mineral resources. In addition, the assumptions and conclusions used in the historical prefeasibility study are out of date and should not be relied on.
The scientific and technical information presented in this press release has been reviewed and approved by Rodney O'Reilly, P. Eng. who is considered a qualified person as defined by National Instrument 43-101. Mr. O'Reilly is not considered independent pursuant to National Instrument 43-101.
A National Instrument 43-101 technical report ("Technical Report") on the Smokey Hills property was completed by South African based Minxcon (Pty) Ltd. and the effective date of Technical Report is April 1, 2016. The Technical Report is available under Aberdeen's profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Information
This press release contains "forward looking information" which includes, but is not limited to, statements with respect to the prospective nature of the Smokey Hills Mine and the Kalplats project, future operating performance of ATP and its projects, statements regarding the prospects for the business of ATP, the timing of future acquisitions of additional properties or projects, requirements for additional capital, impact of management appointments, the mineralization of ATP's projects, Pala's ability to acquire the debt facility from Macquarie and restructure such debt, and PGM prices. Generally, forward looking information can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "plans", "expects" or "does not expect", "is expected", "budget", "scheduled", "estimates", "forecasts", "intends", "anticipates" or "does not anticipate", or "believes", or variations of such words and phrases or state that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "might" or "will be taken", "occur" or "be achieved". Forward-looking information is subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements of ATP to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information, including but not limited to: general business, economic, competitive, foreign operations, political and social uncertainties; a history of operating losses; delay or failure to receive board or regulatory approvals; timing and availability of external financing on acceptable terms; conclusions of economic evaluations; changes in project parameters as plans continue to be refined; future mineral prices; failure of plant, equipment or processes to operate as anticipated; accidents, labour disputes, social unrest and other risks of the mining industry; and, delays in obtaining governmental approvals or required financing or in the completion of activities. Although ATP has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking information, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. There can be no assurance that such information will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward looking information. ATP does not undertake to update any forward-looking information, except in accordance with applicable securities laws.